The Life, Death, and Dreams of Automaton 456 (Rated T for safety. Maybe M. I dunno)

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Thread: The Life, Death, and Dreams of Automaton 456 (Rated T for safety. Maybe M. I dunno)

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    Default The Life, Death, and Dreams of Automaton 456 (Rated T for safety. Maybe M. I dunno)





    Journal Entry #1049299
    Location: S.S.S. Urania, Starboard Deck Automaton Quarters
    Date: 7th of July, 2488
    Time: 22:58 Earth Time (GMT-0)

    Automaton #456HAL

    I’m still wondering what it’s like to dream. I have to imagine that it would be quite entertaining, and I would probably have one ab—

    First, protocol.

    Amount of humans in cryogenic state: 13/13
    Amount of cryogenic fuel remaining on board: 140 metric tons, equivalent of 2 days and 14 hours of continuous freeze.
    Amount of automatons active: 3/912
    Distance from Earth: Approximately 50,210 light years away.

    Now that that’s done with, I can resume. I wonder what it’s like to dream every cycle. I look like a human, I act like a human, so why can’t a dream like a human? ROOT says that I can’t dream because I have no soul, that I’m simply a work of machinery, but I don’t believe it. ROOT says I am programmed to look and act like a human, but I can never be one of them. I let ROOT have power over me, but I know ROOT is just jealous. ROOT, being the control panel of the ship, can’t leave his station and experience the real world like I can.

    I can’t say too much; I’m certain that ROOT checks these logs. As usual, I followed my programming and completed my morning routine duties. I inserted new IV’s into the humans, since they’re preparing to awake. I placed feed in the cargo hold and tried my hardest to get in and out as fast as I could (it still bothers me that I can never see what is in there but I can always hear it. Then again, the shrill screams scare me, so I probably wouldn’t like what I see anyway.) Then, I continued repairs on the ship. The right stellar mast still is in poor condition, but I know that I must try to fix it before the humans awake.

    I am very excited for the moment the humans awake. ROOT says they will not want anything to do with me, but I know that these humans are different. These humans aren’t like the heartless ones at the laboratory back on Earth. These humans would be intelligent and would understand me. ROOT thinks that I’ll get terminated if I interfere with the humans, and ROOT seems to be very stern about this, so I’ll try my hardest to stay out of their way. But I can’t help but wonder at how the humans can help me achieve my goal of dreaming!

    ROOT is telling me that it is time for my cycle to end and for CHEX to take over, so I must leave. Tonight, I’ll try dreaming again. I know that it’ll work someday!

    Automaton 456 HAL signing off.

    --

    Log system rebooting. Automaton 456 HAL signed in. Initiate documentation sequence.
    Log #1049300 Begin


    HAL here again, with quite the interesting development!

    Sadly, I didn’t have a dream last night, but something just as surprising and interesting happened to me! After my restoration cycle ended and I woke up, I continued my duties. Everything was going as normal until I went into the cargo hold. Spaceship Urania hit some interstellar turbulence! I stumbled a bit, trying to remain upright while the ship shook violently. However, upon stumbling, I found that I had bumped into something small yet very strong. I probably would have tripped on it if it didn’t scurry away from me.

    Now that I try to recall what the beast looked like, its appearance eludes me. All I remember was that its color was unlike any color I’ve seen before. Rather, the animal seemed to be a lack of color. It seemed to be a void, an unnatural darkness exuding around its rather small body. And, in the center of this void rested the two beautiful spectacles of light. Like jewels sparkling underneath a bright light, I was instantly reminded of an angler fish. These blinding and hypnotic lights were so enthralling that I hardly noticed when the beast lunged for my throat.

    I will be the first to say that it was astounding that such a small animal was able to push me to the ground! Though I was scared the beast would hurt me (it had quite scary razor-sharp teeth that could easily tear through my metal frame and poly-fiber skin), I was also fascinated by the beast. It was entirely visible now, and it was even more amazing than I once thought. It was nothing like ROOT said they had on Earth!

    Yes, I feared that the small animal would terminate me at this very moment, but, to my complete surprise, the creature simply smelled me before grunting and hopping off! It scurried back into a darkened corner of the room, and I could tell that it was either scared of me or wanted to spare me. Either way, I was happy to be functioning. I quickly arose and ran out of the cargo hold and instantly made my way back to the Automaton Quarters.

    When I arrived, ROOT and CHEX were upset with me for leaving my ‘program’ by going to the cargo hold. They said that I’m going to eventually be terminated if I keep up this pattern, but I think they’re just afraid that I’ll learn too much. I didn’t tell ROOT about my encounter with the creature, but I’m certain that ROOT is suspicious of me.

    I must sign off, ROOT is coming to get me.

    Automaton 456 HAL signing off.

    --

    Log system rebooting. Automaton 456 HAL signed in. Initiate documentation sequence.
    Log #1049301 Begin


    I don’t have much time before ROOT forces me to end my cycle, but the situation has developed even further! After finishing up my duties on double-time (I knew ROOT would get angry if I finished late due to my mid-cycle logging break), I returned to the cargo hold. I was very careful upon entering, as I assumed that the creature would be alarmed that I would be arriving at a different time than usual. I could tell that this was obviously the case, for as soon as I opened the pathway leading into the cargo room, sharp cries and screams bombarded me as the creature scurried into hiding. For a moment, I wondered if there were more beasts than one – the screams were definitely frequent and loud enough to warrant these thoughts – but my mind was pulled away quickly. I spotted the same creature from before, standing several feet in front of me.

    “Hello,” I said to the creature, but I doubted it could understand me. It was my understanding that the humans had taken these creatures from a distant planet they had spotted from Earth. The planet, named something similar to “Pokay-Earth,” was able to support intelligent life, which immediately piqued the interests of human scientists. I believe that this ship, the S.S.S. Urania (Urania is the Greek God of Astronomy, as a side note), is the first manned ship to ever go to and return from Pokay-Earth. As such, these creatures probably had never seen more than a few humans and the occasional automaton arriving to feed them.

    The creature with jewels for eyes stared at me, just as confused as I was. It looked uncertain, as if it couldn’t decide whether to remain in the open or scurry into the darkness. I carefully walked down the ramp and into the main cargo room until I was within arm’s reach from the beast. It had remained completely still until it apparently figured I was too close to it. The beast lunged at me, a fury blending in with the darkness of the cargo hold, and it took me down to the ground.

    “Fffrrrriennndddd?” the beast asked, its ghoulish face directly over mine. Its sharp, canine-like teeth dripped with acidic saliva that would’ve melted right through my carbon frame if I were an inch closer to the beast’s mouth. However, while the imminent danger loomed directly over me, I couldn’t help but feel calm around this beast.

    Before I could react to the situation at hand, I had the strangest sensation. It felt like something was in my head, searching through my programming. It didn’t feel any different than a virus might, but once it spoke to me inside of my mind, I knew it was something much more than that.

    “He trusts you,” the voice said, as clear as my own thoughts. “You and he have something in common that he hasn’t felt with the others. A connection. And, right now, it’s the only thing that’s keeping you from joining the countless others he’s massacred.”

    “Who’s there?” I asked aloud, but nothing responded aside from the slightly confused beast on top of me.

    “Ffffrrrieennndddddd?!” the beast asked again, a tone of both impatience and fear ringing through its voice.

    “It would do you well to respond with yes,” came the voice in my head. As the voice suggested, I nodded my head and did my best to give a warm smile. “Smart decision, he would’ve terminated you if you answered differently.”

    “Frrrriendddd!” the beast exclaimed, pouncing off of my body and staring at me as I squirmed to stand up. ”I ammmm Sableye,” the creature said with a wide grin.

    I was very confused. Just hours ago, this exact same beast was mere inches away from terminating me. Now, the beast (named Say Bull Eye?) was admiring me and calling me his friend. Of course, I wasn’t one to complain. ROOT says I’m not allowed to have friends since it makes me too human-like, but I had always wanted one regardless of what ROOT says.

    Before I could respond further, I heard ROOT’s scanning device kick in as he started searching the ship for me. After all, I was supposed to have returned to the automaton quarters as soon as I finished my work for the day, and I’m sure ROOT was expecting me to return to him right around now. Saying goodbye to my new friend and the telepathic voice that found its way into my processing, I returned to the logging station and began retelling all that happened.

    I need to go back there soon. I need to find out who was telling me those things and how they did it, as well as talk to my friend again. I know it’s dangerous – all the missing automatons that had the task of taking care of the cargo are pieces of evidence that should deter me away from pursuing this – but I feel like I have no other choice. This is something completely dangerous and risky, which is quite the thrill!

    The humans are supposed to return to consciousness in just over 10 hours, which means that I’ll be in charge of restoring them to their health after I wake up from this upcoming cycle. I’m still looking forward to talking with them! They should know the most about dreams out of anybody, and I can almost guarantee they’ll teach me!

    I guess we’ll just see...


    Automaton 456 HAL signing off.

    --

    Log system rebooting. Automaton 456 HAL signed in. Initiate documentation sequence.
    Log #1049302 Begin


    I’m very excited now! It is only moments until the humans awake, and I have so many questions for them! ROOT tells me that I shouldn’t bother them and that they won’t be in any condition to answer my questions. Regardless, I can’t wait!

    However, there is one thing that ROOT says that I have to agree with: the humans will be upset to know that the right stellar mast is broken. It was nobody’s fault, really. Prior to when ROOT took control of the navigation systems, us automatons would have to take shifts driving the ship. The automaton who was supposed to be operating the ship’s turbines – FLEX was his name, I think – had to feed the cargo directly before. Like so many other automatons, FLEX never made it out of that cargo hold. As such, with no one operating the navigation systems, the ship crashed into a massive asteroid. Thankfully, ROOT was able to steer us away from certain death, but not before we took heavy damage. A repair wouldn’t have taken too long if we had a full staff, but there were barely 20 automatons left at the time.

    No matter. What’s done is done. At the moment, there’s nothing that we can do about it, and, hopefully, the humans will understand. Humans are known for their sympathy and understanding, so it shou—

    ROOT tells me that they’re waking now. I’ve got to go see this!

    Automaton 456 HAL signing off.

    --

    Log system rebooting. Automaton 456 HAL signed in. Initiate documentation sequence.
    Log #1049303 Begin


    I arrived just in time to see the humans awake. While this was very important to see, it was also quite disturbing. ROOT warned me that the humans would probably be sick from being frozen for such a long time, but he never told me that they would be violently throwing up all across the room. It makes me shudder to just think of it.

    One thing was nice about this situation, however. For the first time in a long while, we saw artificial light. Our reserves had emptied when all our energy was redirected to repairing the ship, so we had been operating in the dark for almost four Earth years after the crash. It wasn’t too big of a bother to us automatons because we have no difficulty seeing in the dark when we’re programmed correctly, but the humans can’t fully function if they can’t see.

    CHEX and I were busy attending to the humans, bringing towels and blankets to help them restore their body temperatures. Most of the humans took the items without thinking about it, too occupied by the condition they were in. However, a single human – a child, by the looks of it – looked at me with a smile. Though we’re programmed not to have feelings for humans (and in no way was I attracted to a human child!) there was something about the way she looked at me. It was as if she believed me to be another human being, just like her. Though we are constructed to look and act like them, the scientists and engineers back on Earth had always treated us automatons as tools.

    I couldn’t stop and speak with the child because I had other duties to attend to, but I know that I must speak with her eventually.

    ROOT silently advised me not to inform the humans of the situation of the ship. He said that the humans wouldn’t be happy to find out so soon, and informing them when they were physically better would be the smartest time. I briefly nodded to signal that I was in agreement. Finishing up my duties, I delivered one last set of towels to each human before exiting the room, allowing them to collect themselves before we would speak again.

    Maybe the girl will tell me about dreams. She seems the most likely, as everybody else was very intimidating. And irritated. And smelled like vomit.

    ROOT’s calling me. He wants us to figure out a way to tell the humans about the crash. Wish me luck!

    Automaton 456 HAL signing off.

    --

    Log system rebooting. Automaton 456 HAL signed in. Initiate documentation sequence.
    Log #1049304 Begin


    Precisely as we had thought.

    We tried to come up with the easiest way to deliver the information, but no matter which way you could possibly spin and twist it, telling your captain that you’ve been stuck in the same spot in space for the past four Earth years can never end well.

    The man in charge – at least, I assume he was in charge – was the most upset of all the humans. His piercing blue eyes alone seemed to condemn CHEX and me, as if he was blaming us for the crash.

    “But sir, it wasn’t our fault!” I spoke up as the man began walking towards both of us, his fists clenched and an expression of fury on his sharp face. Though he had a handsome face and a muscular build, the look on his face was quite possibly the scariest thing I’ve seen.

    “I don’t care that it’s not your fault! Because of your species’ inability to complete even the easiest and most mundane activities, you have jeopardized this entire operation!” the man snapped, approaching even closer.

    “Don’t turn this into a bigger mess, Captain Michaels,” came a stray voice from the crowd of humans behind him. After glaring at both CHEX and me for just enough time to get his emotions across, he turned around and stomped back to the other humans.

    “Where are the rest of you?” another voice asked, this one belonging to a wise-looking old man. “Surely there are more working on the repairs?”

    “I’m afraid, sir, that we are all that is left of our crew,” CHEX replied. “We’ve lost many over the years, and our numbers have dwindled to just three.”

    If there was one thing that surprised the humans the most, this was it. The looks of sheer surprise that they donned almost made me laugh, but I knew now wasn’t the time. It would take them a while to realize the gravity of the situation, but there was nothing we could do about it.

    “What do you mean there are only three of you?! There must have been over a thousand of you when we boarded!” the old man said, speaking for the entire group of humans.

    “Actually, sir, there were only 912 of us,” I replied, but the old man simply scoffed.

    “My question stands. How did you lose so many members of your crew?” the man asked, pushing his glasses back up to their previous spot on the bridge of his nose.

    “There have been a multitude of ways,” CHEX replied, taking the conversation away from me (which was probably the right thing to do), “and going into detail about each and every disconnection would be time-consuming and irrelevant.”

    “It is of the utmost importance that we know any and all threats on board this ship,” the old man said in a stern voice. “Any deaths to the humans on this ship will be held against you, meaning instant termination, so it would be wisest if you told us so that no one stumbled upon these threats by accident.”

    Both CHEX and I were shocked. These humans were nothing like we had been informed about! We – rather, I thought they would be sympathetic and understanding. There had been an accident on the ship long ago, but there was nothing we could do about it! It was just that – an accident! Yet, the humans were blaming it on the few that might have been able to help them! It’s against our programming to feel any malice towards humans, but I can’t help but feel offended and unappreciated.

    “A large majority of the automatons were terminated during the crash that caused the damage to stellar mast. We lost over 500 of our remaining population, being left with only 20 automatons. However, the most prominent threat to the automatons throughout the years has always been the cargo,” CHEX explained.

    “What do you mean?” The old man eyeballed CHEX and me suspiciously. “What do you mean that the cargo has been a threat to the automatons?” he repeated.

    “Well, many automatons have entered the cargo room and never came back,” CHEX said. “None of us know precisely why the automatons never return, partially because none of us know what exactly the cargo is.”

    The old man hesitated. Standing up, I noticed that he was donned in a completely white laboratory suit with a tag on his shoulder. It read, “Doctor Styx, Pokemon Environmentalist.” I didn’t recognize the word, Pokemon, but I had a feeling that he knew more about the cargo than we did, meaning my friend as well.

    “Do you know what the purpose of this expedition is?” the doctor asked, taking off his glasses. Both CHEX and I shook our heads. All the scientists had told us was that this was a trip back to Earth. He didn’t tell us what the cargo was, nor did he say why we were taking it. “You know where we are coming from, correct?”

    CHEX shook his head, but I had a brief idea. “The Pokay-Earth, right?”

    The doctor gave a slight smirk and put his glasses back on. “Yes, the Pokémon Earth, or more commonly called Pokéarth. It’s a planet far from Earth yet is extremely similar to it; Pokearth has the ability to support life. The lifeforms on the Pokémon Earth have developed to levels far exceeding the lifeforms on Earth, so much so that the humans on Earth require the services of the inhabitants, named Pokémon.”

    “Is that what the cargo is then?” I asked curiously.

    “Precisely,” the doctor replied. “Each beast in the cargo hold has a very specific reason of being there. Some of them are evidently dangerous.”

    I immediately thought back to my friend in the cargo hold. Was he one of these Pokémon that Doctor Styx was talking about? Say-Bull-Eye definitely wasn’t anything like that could be found on Earth. But what was Say-Bull-Eye’s purpose to the humans then? Did he have something that couldn’t be found on Earth? Was he essential to the survival of humanity? All these questions began swirling around in my head, but I knew it was the wrong time to ask them.

    “Then what do you advise us to do?” CHEX asked the doctor. “We are still programmed to feed them every 12 Earth hours, but how can we feed them if we can’t go near them?”

    Doctor Styx grunted. “No, I did not say that you couldn’t go near them. The risk is high, but the survival of the Pokémon is essential. If even one of the Pokémon do not make it back to Earth, this entire expedition will have failed. As such, my only advice to you is to be careful when you’re feeding them.”

    I was beyond offended now. “You mean we are supposed to put our lives on the line for your stupid expedition?!” I exclaimed.

    The doctor’s previously calm and understanding expression was soon replaced with an icy cold and bitter one. “You do not have a life, for that requires a soul. You are but an automaton, simple machinery built to look and act like a human so that we feel more comfortable around you. It would do you best to remember that, automaton. Your sole purpose is to service the humans on this expedition, and, if you fail to do so, you will be terminated on the spot.”

    Before I could reply, ROOT silenced me through the automaton control panel, making it impossible for me to speak up again. Now that I think back on it, I understand why he did it, and I’m quite thankful he stopped me from making a rash decision.

    “You are excused now, automatons. Go back to mending the stellar mast and your regular duties before I make you suffer for disobeying the orders of a human,” Doctor Styx snapped.

    CHEX and I bowed before turning around and exiting the human quarters. After we were out of the sight of the humans, we both began attending to our duties, but I managed to sneak away to log this.

    Again, I have to say that the humans were nothing like I was expecting. I had always been told that the humans were a smarter and more understanding species with the ability to forgive, but these people were far from that.

    I hear the humans leaving their quarters. They must be coming out to inspect the ship. I’ve got to head back.

    Automaton 456 HAL signing off.

    --

    Log system rebooting. Automaton 456 HAL signed in. Initiate documentation sequence.
    Log #1049305 Begin


    When I made it back to the main deck, I was surprised to find that it was just one human that had left the quarters, but it wasn’t just any human. It was the young girl that I had connected with earlier. As soon as she spotted me, a wide smile appeared on her face, and she raced towards me.

    “Who are you?” the girl asked. “I’m Ellie, and I’m 8.”

    “Well, I’m Automaton 456, but you can just call me HAL,” I replied, pretending to occupy myself by grabbing a mop and mindlessly swabbing. I couldn’t know if this girl was on my side or not, but it would be best to simply play it safe. “And how can you be Ellie and 8?” I asked. She had confused me by introducing herself as two different names, so I thought I should ask, just to be clear.

    The girl stared at me, confused, until she finally understood my question. With a giggle, she replied, “No, my name is Ellie, and I’m 8 years old.”

    “Oh, I understand now,” I replied, mindlessly grabbing a mop and began swabbing the floors. “I would guess that I’m... 197 years old,” I said.

    The girl tossed her head back in a howl of laughter, her blonde, curly locks of hair bouncing. I didn’t quite understand what she thought was so funny, but I went along with it and gave a gentle smile as I turned my attention back to the mop.

    “You’re funny. I like you,” Ellie said with a smile, childish blue eyes looking up at me. She wasn’t dressed like the other humans either, as she wore a summer dress while the others wore spacesuits. It was quite strange, seeing a human happy in the current situation, but, again, I simply went along with it and smiled back at her.

    “So how are you liking the spaceship?” I asked.

    “It’s okay, I guess,” she said, looking to her feet. “I don’t have many friends here like I did back on Pokéarth, but I guess that’s okay.”

    I looked up from mopping to look at Ellie. When she spoke of friends, I couldn’t help but think that I should introduce her to my friend. If Ellie had friends back on the Pokémon Earth, then she must’ve been friends with Say-Bull-Eye!

    “You know, I have some friends that I could show you that were from Pokéarth,” I said to Ellie, causing her face to light up.

    “You mean there are some Pokémon I could play with?” Ellie asked. “That would be great, Hal! I haven’t seen a real life Pokémon in forever, and I used to be friends with so many back on Pokéarth.”

    “I can’t take you to them right now, though,” I explained, “since I have to tell them about you first so they know you are also a friend.”

    “Oh,” Ellie said with a sigh. “Okay, I guess I can wait. But could you try and get me to play with them as soon as you can?” she asked.

    “Of course!” I exclaimed. “But only if you promise not to tell anyone.”

    Ellie smiled deviously and held out her pinky. “I pinky promise!” With a slightly confused grin, I stuck out my hand and mimicked her movements. We briefly shook our fingers before someone opened the door to the human quarters.

    “Ellie, are you out there?” came the voice of a human, probably female. I assumed it was Ellie’s mom and I quickly moved away, not wanting to get in trouble for talking to her.

    “You’ll take me there soon!” Ellie whispered, to which I nodded, and she bolted back to her mother. Right before she entered the human quarters, she waved excitedly to me and slammed the door. Now, having enough time to sneak away and log, I returned to my quarters.

    I’m excited to introduce her to Say-Bull-Eye. However, I can’t tell if they’ll get along or not. After I finish logging, I’ll have to go ask. Who knows, maybe I’ll soon have two friends!

    I’ll be back soon.

    Automaton 456 HAL signing off.

    --

    Log system rebooting. Automaton 456 HAL signed in. Initiate documentation sequence.
    Log #1049305 Begin




    As promised, I eventually made my way to the cargo hold. The room was dark as usual, and Say-bull-eye was hidden in a corner, waiting to see who the intruder was. However, its glimmering eyes attracted my attention instantly. Upon seeing my arrival, Say-Bull-Eye grinned, displaying its razor-sharp teeth, and quickly scattered across the room to greet me. I smiled back too, as any friend would, but, at this point, I already knew something was wrong.

    I felt the gentle hum in my head that reminded me of a virus. It was so faint that I wasn’t certain if it was actually there. When time stopped, however, I knew it wasn’t a simple malfunction.

    It took me a while to understand what had happened. Say-Bull-Eye had stopped mid-crawl, perhaps 10 feet in front of me. The gentle buzz of the emergency lights no longer rang through the room, and it seemed as if I was the only thing in the room unaffected by this strange phenomena. To confirm my suspicions, I glanced down on my wrist to see that my built-in clock had stopped ticking.

    “You shouldn’t have come here,” sounded a powerful voice, the words reverberating off of the empty walls.

    I spun around in a circle, looking for the source, but I was fairly certain the room was empty. “Who’s there?” I asked. Though this voice was ominous and strong, I could tell that it wasn’t going to hurt me. Why would it have stopped time to do so?

    “I am a friend,” the voice spoke, “and I’m here to warn you. Sableye is not what he appears to be.”

    “What do you mean?” I asked, spinning around once more.

    “Sableye is but an illusion itself. Behind those glimmering eyes is a demon with a sinister drive.”

    “Tell me who you are before I listen to more of what you have to say!” I exclaimed. Say-Bull-Eye was still my friend, and I wouldn’t let an invisible voice tell me differently.

    As I spoke, a small platform rose out of the ground several feet behind the still frozen Say-Bull-Eye. A dark red light radiated through the normally dark cargo hold, illuminating the entire room. The room was much larger than I had originally guessed – the dark walls and void of space mixed together too easily for an accurate judgment. It was the size of a football field, if not larger, and I wondered why the room was so massive for only one Pokemon.

    “You may call me Abra,” spoke the voice once more. This time, I knew that the voice originated from the platform on the ground. Walking cautiously towards it, I noticed that the space above the platform shimmered oddly in the light. It reminded me of how light reflected off of water, which was far from normal in space. Inching closer by the second, I stuck out my hand to touch whatever rested on the ledge.

    “Please don’t touch me,” came the voice once more, but it was too late. With the slightest nudge from my artificial hand, the shimmering refraction of the light vanished. Replacing it was an infant-like alien, levitating mere inches off of the platform. The alien had yellow, scaly skin which was coated in a thin layer of frost – similar to when the humans first awoke from cryogenic storage.

    “Sorry,” I said sheepishly. “Are you a Pokémon too?”

    “Yes,” Abra answered. Though Abra’s voice struck through clearly, its mouth didn’t move with its words. “I am one of the few remaining Pokémon on this spacecraft.”

    “Remaining?” I asked. What could have happened to the others? The Pokémon only stayed in the cargo, and there couldn’t have been any threats from outside hurting them.

    “Yes. Most of the others were killed,” Abra spoke solemnly.

    “How? What could have killed them?” I asked, but as soon as the words left my mouth, I thought I knew the answer.

    “Yes, it was him. Sableye,” Abra replied, as if it was reading my mind, “or as my kind used to call him, Fürin, which means Void.”

    “How would Say-Bull-Eye have been able to do such a thing? He’s my friend!” I exclaimed.

    “I’ve already explained this to you – Sableye is not as he seems. If you just let me speak, I can explain to you why. We don’t have much time anyway; I can barely keep Sableye contained as it is.”

    I was about to interject, saying that I wouldn’t let Abra talk poorly of my friend, but there wasn’t any harm in letting Abra speak. My view on Say-Bull-Eye wouldn’t change if I didn’t believe it, so it didn’t really matter. Remaining in silence, I nodded towards Abra to tell it to go ahead.

    “Before I speak, I should introduce my dearest friend. Elgyem has been with me since the beginning, and he has more experience with this demon than I do,” Abra said as yet another platform rose out of the ground. Residing on this ledge was a dark green alien which appeared to be made from stone. Similar to Say-Bull-Eye, Elgyem had precious jewels embedded in its body; large emerald-like rocks were placed where its eyes might be, and more jewels of exotic colors were like fingers on its long hands.

    ”Hello again, HAL,” spoke Elgyem, but I heard it through my programming. I instantly recognized the voice to be the one from my first encounter with Say-Bull-Eye. ”Sorry to interrupt, but I’ve been meaning to tell you something, HAL. It’s Sableye, not Say-Bull-Eye. Thankfully, they sound close enough so Sableye’s ears can’t tell the difference, but Sableye would not be pleased if he knew you were saying his name wrong.”

    I made a note to remember that. “Okay, I’m ready to listen,” I said, sitting down on the ground. I stared at the two levitating creatures and prepared to register everything they said.

    “Pokéarth has an incredibly complex ecosystem and an even more complex food chain. At the bottom are the herbivores like Caterpie and Weedle, two Pokémon comparable to small insects back on Earth. Next are the small carnivores, like Rattata and Pidgey. The system gets larger and larger, but the important thing to remember is that there is an order to this chain. The chain has been peaceful and balanced for eternities.

    “It’s safe to say that Sableye is a malfunction in the system. Obviously, the grass Pokémon will be weak to the fire Pokémon and the fire Pokémon weak to the water Pokémon. However, when Sableye appeared several thousand years ago, he was created with no weaknesses. And, because he has no weaknesses, he had no predators, giving him free control of the entire ecosystem. Not only does Sableye not have any predators, but he lives – rather, exists forever.

    “Because of Sableye’s reign over everything he can have, he has an extreme passion for obtaining what he can’t have. Friends. Emotions. A soul. Even though Sableye has been existing for millennia, he still craves life. As such, in hopes of obtaining these, Sableye consumes every living thing in its wake.”

    ”Abra and I lived together in a remote land of Pokéarth. Later to be known as Meteor Valley, our lives were peaceful amongst our kind, which were revered as the smartest and wisest of all Pokémon. We thought we were safe from all danger, and we felt we had enough fire power to keep any threats at bay.

    “However, Sableye soon realized that our valley was untouched by his destruction. He smelled ideas and dreams emanating from the valley, which instantly attracted him. Our kind had fought threats before, but nothing like Sableye. He was immune to whatever we threw at him. Within minutes, Sableye had infiltrated our community and already began his massacre. Abra and I were among the total of 12 survivors.”


    “With our great civilization destroyed, the rest of us fled to the large forests to escape. We were lost entirely, but we somehow managed to make our ways towards the newly established human settlement. Confused, lost, and tired, we sought refuge with the humans. When they learned of our psychic abilities, however, we became part of their project to restore their broken planet.

    “A few months later, we were holed up in this room with our greatest enemy. Somewhat luckily, we already knew his tactics from his first raid. We’ve managed to survive by hiding, while the countless others were consumed. Elgyem, Sableye, and I are the only remaining Pokémon of this entire expedition.”

    I stared at the two psychic Pokémon for a long time. My mouth was wide open in both shock and disbelief. Could their story be true? I honestly couldn’t tell. They didn’t have any reason to lie about Sableye, and I couldn’t figure out why they would be on the spaceship without their story.

    ”It seems as if we have… broken our friend,” Elgyem said sarcastically. However, it was all that was needed to bring me back to reality.

    “I’m still confused, and I don’t know what to think. I am very sorry for you and what happened to your people, but Sableye is my friend,” I replied. I pushed myself off of the ground and prepared to leave, but I found myself unable to move more than a few inches in any direction. It felt as if there was a strong, invisible pressure holding me in a firm grasp.

    “Before you leave, we have to warn you. Sableye sees you as a tool for him to use. You also strive to have something you can never have – a dream,” Abra said.

    I stared at the levitating Pokémon for a minute, an entirely new look of surprise on my face. “How did you know…?”

    ”Don’t worry, your secret is safe with us!” Elgyem giggled.

    “The point is Sableye thinks you’re on to something, and he wants to be with you when you find it. Unknowingly, you’ve been helping him get closer to achieving his goal of living,” Abra explained.

    “And what’s wrong with that?” I asked. “If Sableye wants to live, then let him live! Maybe he will stop terrorizing your people if I help him!”

    “Far from that, HAL. If Sableye lives, even for the slightest moment, he will reproduce. The only thing worse than one Sableye is many Sableye. They would destroy everything that lives in their blood-thirsty search for the impossible.”

    I stopped struggling against the invisible force for a moment and looked at Abra. “What would you have me do then?” I asked.

    “Just leave Sableye alone. Don’t interact with him at all, and wait until Sableye remembers how bleak his situation is. Once he loses contact with your unintentional encouragement, he will return to normal,” Abra said.

    I stood in silence. This wasn’t what friends were supposed to do. They were supposed to trust and love each other, not conspire against. Turning away from Abra and Elgyem, I looked back at the still frozen Sableye. I wasn’t sure who to trust.

    “Okay. To the furthest of my abilities, I will leave Sableye alone. At least until the situation clears up,” I said with a confirming nod.

    ”That’s all we needed to hear from you,” Elgyem said. ”You’re free to go.”

    I felt the pressure fade and was soon moving freely. I returned to the entrance of the room before I remembered my promise to Ellie. “Would it be too much to ask for my human friend to come play with one of you eventually?” I asked.

    I could tell that Abra and Elgyem were discussing my question mentally between themselves. It was very brief, as I’m certain that they could communicate at incredibly high speeds. “You may bring the girl to play with Elgyem while I keep Sableye at bay,” Abra said with a grunt. “Bring the girl down in 24 Earth hours.”

    I nodded briefly and left the room. Turning back as I shut the door, I saw both Abra and Elgyem turn invisible once more and sink back into their shelters in the ground. As soon as the door to the cargo hold was locked, I heard Sableye’s piercing scream as he realized I wasn’t there. Not certain what I was supposed to do, I ran back to my quarters as fast as I could.

    I still haven’t set my mind on this situation. I trust Sableye, but Abra and Elgyem couldn’t be lying. It’s too big of a decision to make right now. I should sleep on it.

    Automaton 456 HAL signing off.

    --

    Log system rebooting. Automaton 456 HAL signed in. Initiate documentation sequence.
    Log #1049306 Begin


    Oh no. Oh no.

    I told Ellie about the plan the next day, and she was ecstatic. Her childish face was brightened by a luminous smile, which gave me a moment of clarity in this storm of confusion. She was a better friend than I could ask for, so I would always do my best to serve her. Unlike Sableye (I decided in my sleep), our friendship was more than just a title.

    “So who will I be playing with?” Ellie asked as I started leading the way towards the cargo hold. “Is it a boy or a girl Pokémon? Do they have a special type? What do they like to do?”

    “Calm down, Ellie!” I said, earning a sheepish smile from the little girl next to me. “You’ll be playing with Elgyem today. I’m not sure if Elgyem is a boy or a girl, but I don’t think it matters. Elgyem is kind and funny, but the way Elgyem communicates is a little strange. I think –“

    “What does communicate mean?” Ellie asked with a confused grin.

    “Talks to, I guess. Elgyem talks to you through your mind,” I replied.

    “You mean like a Psychic type does?” Ellie said. “Those were my favorite back on Pokéarth!”

    “Exactly! Elgyem is just like those back on Pokéarth. Elgyem can move things without touching them and even make you levitate! It’s really quite fasc--“

    “What does levitate mean?” Ellie interrupted, the same smile on her face.

    “Float off the ground,” I explained.

    “Ahh,” Ellie nodded. “My mom told me about Pokemon like those. She told me not to go near them because they might be mean. Elgyem isn’t mean, right?”

    “Not at all,” I reassured. “Elgyem is one of the nicest Pokémon I’ve met!”

    “Awesome!” Ellie exclaimed. She jumped into the air in excitement, causing the small yellow clip that was in her hair to fall to the ground. Bending over, I picked up the clip and mindlessly brushed it back into her hair. I don’t think she even noticed.

    “Are we almost there?” Ellie asked. Truthfully, we had been walking around in circles near the room for the past 15 minutes. I was only buying time so that when we entered, it would be completely safe. Abra told me precisely 24 hours after we last met, and I couldn’t be too cautious about it.

    “Yes, it’s just around the corner,” I said, glancing down at my internal clock. It was just a few seconds before we were supposed to arrive. Leading Ellie towards the door, I carefully knocked before opening and entering the room.

    It was just as I had remembered it from yesterday. The room was still filled with the dark red light, and Sableye was nowhere to be found. “Hello?” I asked into the seemingly empty room.

    ”Hiya!” came Elgyem’s bubbly voice. Popping up from the ground like it did yesterday, the same blue-green alien hovered over to the entrance. ”You must be Ellie!” Elgyem said towards the little girl.

    “Yep, that’s me!” she said with a smile. “What games do you want to play?” she asked, stepping further into the room.

    ”Anything you want to play. I’m one of the greatest game-players ever!” Elgyem said.

    “I’ve got a few ideas…” Ellie said, trailing off. “Come with me!” she said, signaling Elgyem to follow her.

    ”Abra is over there,” Elgyem said telepathically as it pointed one of its hand to the darkest corner. I was fairly certain that Elgyem only said this to me, as Ellie continued on her way to one of the room’s far walls. I nodded to Elgyem and it flew off towards Ellie.

    I walked cautiously over towards the corner. I couldn’t discern if there was a figure or not, but that was the least of my worries. Sableye was nowhere to be found. How did I know that Ellie was safe if I couldn’t see where the biggest threat to her life was?

    “I’m doing my best to keep him out of sight,” came Abra’s struggling voice from the corner. I rushed over to greet him, but what I saw both confused and terrified me. Abra’s infant-like body faced the wall, trapping something in the corner. I peered closer to see that Sableye was trapped in a bubble of translucent psychic energy.

    “What’s going on?!” I exclaimed in a whisper to Abra.

    “It’s the only way I can contain him so that it’s safe for Ellie,” Abra whimpered. “Ellie’s mind can’t handle the time stop like we can, and Sableye can’t be trusted if he’s not contained.”

    “Ffffrrriienddd?” came Sableye’s distorted voice as he noticed my familiar face. Temporarily, he stopped trying to claw his way out of the bubble. His glimmering eyes were filled with confusion as he stared up at me.

    “I’m sorry, Sableye, but this is the only way,” I said. I wasn’t sure if Sableye hadn’t heard me or if he simply refused to accept what I just said, but Sableye continued to stare. Not sure what else to do, I turned away so I wouldn’t have to look at him.

    “This prison won’t hold him much longer. We’ve got to get Ellie out of here soon,” Abra said. I nodded, but Elgyem must have been listening in on us anyway, as he had already started to prepare Ellie.

    “Fffrrrrrrrriiieeeenddd…” Sableye yelled, almost as if he was crying. I heard scratching noises as he resumed his break from the prison.

    “You have to leave. Now,” Abra said to me. I hadn’t noticed that I was slowly backing away from Sableye, but I turned around and began running.

    “Wwwwhhhyyy?” I heard Sableye moan.

    “Come on, Ellie. We have to leave,” I said hurriedly to the confused girl.

    “Wwwwwhhhhhhyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy?!” I heard Sableye scream.

    “What’s going on, Hal?” Ellie asked.

    “WWWWWWWHHHHHHHYYYYYYYYYYY?!?!” I heard Sableye’s blood-curdling screech, his terrifying hallow of misery.

    “Nothing, but we have to leave now!” I screamed, grabbing Ellie’s hand and running towards the door.

    What happened next was a blur, even for my recording memory. I heard a loud shatter from the corner. The psychic prison was no match for Sableye’s uncontrolled rage. Sableye lunged at Abra, bringing it to the ground. Before Abra could even register what had happened, Sableye had scratched and bitten Abra countless times. Abra squirmed on the ground, but Sableye wasn’t letting Abra out of his grasp.

    That is, until Sableye sniffed the air and caught onto Ellie’s scent. Sableye scattered across the room at a mind-boggling speed, moving faster than anything I had ever seen. Its normally small hands grew to larger sizes as they became claws cloaked in a dark shadow. Elgyem teleported in front of Ellie and me, but it was no match for Sableye’s ferocity. Just inches before Ellie and I were out the door, Sableye’s razor-sharp claws nicked Ellie’s arm, creating a large crimson gash in the girl. However, before Sableye could escape, I slammed the door and locked it.

    Ellie’s whimper brought me back from the blur. Looking down, I saw that her entire arm had been split open by Sableye’s claw. A blackish poison seeped into her blood from the gash that I feared could’ve been poisonous.

    “Are you okay?” I asked to her as I bent down. “How badly does it hurt?”

    “Hal, take me to my mommy. She knows how to fix this,” Ellie commanded, but her voice sounded exhausted. I was afraid the wound would be too serious to fix, but I wouldn’t dare tell Ellie that. I scooped up the little girl and began running back to the main deck, Ellie’s blood leaving a trail behind us.

    Again, my memory fades here. I remember a lot of tears from Ellie and her mother, a beautiful woman with eyes just like her daughter. I also remember the entire crew piling out of their quarters, but they seemed more concerned about how she was hurt instead of if she was okay. I think I answered some questions, but nothing really stuck out to me. I was told to return to my quarters and log while the memories were still fresh in my mind.

    This is all my fault. Ellie is bleeding out, Abra and Elgyem are unconscious in the same room as Sableye, and now I probably have no friends.



    I don’t know what else to say. I assume that I’ll probably be terminated for bringing harm to a human, but I honestly think I deserve it.



    Automaton 456m HAL signing off.

    --

    Log system rebooting. Automaton 456 HAL signed in. Initiate documentation sequence.
    Log #1049307 Begin


    Ellie is okay, thankfully. Her mother is one of the best doctors in the world. Ellie’s still in the medical ward of the ship, which is probably good. She needs rest after she lost all that blood.

    It’s funny to think that all this started from wanting to dream. Now that I look back on it, I can see just how blind I was to trust Sableye. He was a demon, and I didn’t even notice. Without a doubt in my mind, I am certain that he and he alone was the cause for all the disappearances of the automatons. Now, dreams seem so childish. This is more than that.

    ROOT is having me return to my duties upon my next cycle, now that he’s certain I’m stable enough. CHEX is now taking over for me with feeding the cargo, however, as ROOT thinks that I should wait before going back there. I agree with ROOT.

    I’ll have to see Ellie as soon as I can. I hope she forgives me.

    Automaton 456 HAL signing off.

    --

    Log system rebooting. Automaton 456 HAL signed in. Initiate documentation sequence.
    Log #1049308 Begin


    Ellie is quite beautiful. Even when her skin is four shades paler and her body is filled with countless needles, her smile is the only thing that makes sense anymore.

    “Hi, Ellie,” I said with a relieved smile as I opened the door to the medical room.

    “Hal…” Ellie whimpered, her voice cracking at every opportunity. Even when she was so bleak and desperate, she tried her best to sit up and greet me.

    “Don’t,” I said, rushing over to the stretcher and gently pressing her head to the pillow. “You need to rest and get better.”

    “Yeah,” Ellie said with a yawn. “I’m sorry about earlier. I didn’t mean for things to happen like they did.”

    “Ellie, it was not your fault!” I said. “It was all my fault. I take full responsibility. You wouldn’t be in this mess if I--“

    “What does responsibilility mean?” Ellie asked.

    I smiled back at her. “It means that I didn’t mean for things to turn out like they did. I am sorry. I am so, so sorry.”

    Ellie did her best to give me a gentle smile. “It’s okay, Hal. I’m fine,” she said.

    I grabbed her hand and clenched it in mine. We just sat there for a couple minutes, maybe longer, but the important thing was that she was okay.

    “So… what do you want to talk about?” Ellie asked.

    I gave a kind smirk to the girl. Despite how bleak she truly was, she hadn’t changed in the slightest. “Anything you want.”

    “Well… I had a dream when I was sleeping!” Ellie said excitedly.

    “Really?” I asked. Though I didn’t want to overstep my boundaries, I was begging for Ellie to go on. My obsession for dreams was a thing of the past, but I still wanted to learn more about the touchy subject.

    “Yeah, it was a cool one too.” Ellie rolled onto her back with a small whimper and looked up to the ceiling. “We were back on Pokéarth, me and you. We were just outside the people camp, lying down in the grass and looking up to the night sky. We drew things out of the stars and found some nice Pokémon to play with.” She paused. “I liked that dream…” she said, trailing off.

    “It sounds wonderful,” I said. “You must have really loved that place.”

    Ellie nodded with a yawn. “I liked it a lot, but I love space even more. Thanks for being my friend, Hal.”

    “Of course,” I smiled, “and thank you for being my friend.”

    Ellie gave yet another brief yet brilliant smile. “I’m tired,” she said.

    “I’ll let you rest then,” I replied. Standing up, I gave Ellie a gentle kiss on the forehead. “Good night, Ellie.”

    “Good night, Hal!” I heard as the door shut behind me.

    Turning around from the door, I noticed that Doctor Styx was standing in the hallway. He looked at me with uncertainty, probably wondering why I was there in the first place.

    “Evening, Doctor,” I said as I tried to brush by him, but he stepped in front of my way to stop me. “Is anything the matter?”

    “Yes.” The doctor spoke in almost a whisper. “Ellie is my granddaughter, did you know that?” I shook my head. “Her mother is one of the best medical doctors in the world, but I wanted my daughter with me more than I needed her. She wouldn’t part with her child like I wouldn’t part with mine, so I brought them both along.”

    “Why are you telling me this?” I asked the old man. I wasn’t trying to be disrespectful, but I was curious.

    “I’m telling you this because I need you to know that they are my responsibility,” the doctor snapped. “Ellie is the light of our lives, and you endangered her. There will be consequences, automaton.”

    “I understand,” I said. “I too take responsibility for any harm caused to your granddaughter. Punish me as you wish.”

    Doctor Styx grunted before turning away from me. Staring through the window into Ellie’s room, I noticed that a single tear rolled down the man’s wrinkled cheek. “You’re not like any other automaton, are you?”

    “I certainly hope not,” I replied. “The universe would be endangered far too quickly.”

    The doctor chuckled. “I meant that you’re more like a human than the others. You think and act outside of your programming. You imagine. You pretend. You dream.

    I gasped. Had Doctor Styx seen my logs? Did he know about my obsession with dreams? “How did you…” I trailed off.

    “I had to watch all your logs to make sense of this situation. Well, the most recent ones anyway. Don’t worry, I won’t tell anybody else about it.”

    “With all due respect, sir, but I don’t dream,” I replied nervously.

    “Dreaming is much more than just visions in your sleep. Dreams are manifestations of your emotions, your strongest wills and desires. Dreams are goals you can’t possibly achieve. You, my friend, have been dreaming for a long time. You dream to dream.”

    The doctor gave one more glance towards his ill granddaughter before heading back down the long hallway to the main deck.

    “Thank you, Doctor,” I yelled before the man left my sight. Without even looking back, Doctor Styx gave a brief nod of acknowledgement and returned to his quarters. As he was leaving, however, a small red and white capsule fell from his pocket.

    “Doctor, you dropped something!” I exclaimed, but I doubted that he heard me. He simply continued walking to his quarters. I picked up the small item and hurriedly followed the doctor. Unfortunately, the doctor had made his way into an elevator before I could catch him. I would have to wait until he had reached his destination before I could follow him (one of the ship’s protocols is to always give the humans priority in situations like these.)

    I glanced down at the object in my hand. It was unlike anything I had seen before. It appeared to prototype model of sorts, as it hardly looked finished. I originally thought the object was a simple sphere, perhaps a keepsake from Earth, but once I had the sphere closer to me, I could tell that this was something much more important than a souvenir. I glanced through the translucent white cover on the bottom of the ball to see a very advanced and confusing piece of machinery. It looked like the inner workings of a very complex clock, with hundreds of miniature pieces of metal all revolving around the center of the sphere, a single button.

    When the elevator finally dropped off the doctor, I noticed that the elevator had been entirely shut down from the medical ward, and I wasn’t certain why. Perhaps the doctor didn’t want me following him? Maybe as an extra security measure to keep Ellie safe? There was no way to find out. Regardless, I asked ROOT to find a way for me to get back to my quarters. It was a long path, venturing through many of the ship’s secret passageways, but it was bearable. I held onto the small device that Doctor Styx dropped and put it in my pocket to keep it safe. I’ll have to get it back to him as soon as I can. I have the strangest feeling about the sphere; it’s almost as if it’s living, but not quite. I’ll try and ask the doctor when I see him next.

    ROOT says I’ll start my duties again after I wake up from my next regenerative cycle, which I should probably start pretty soon.

    I’ve been dreaming this entire time, huh? Kind of strange to think about it, especially when I made it my obsession. Perhaps that was what Sableye saw in me when we first met. Maybe that’s why he kept me around long enough so that I would bring him the life he craved. Maybe that’s why Ellie is hurting so badly and why I am going to be terminated and why I’m –

    I need to stop. This is too much.

    Automaton 456 HAL signing off.

    --

    Log system rebooting. Automaton 456 HAL signed in. Initiate documentation sequence.
    Log #1049309 Begin


    Back to work today. CHEX is late getting back to the automaton quarters, but it’s probably harder doing my work on top of his, so I’ve cut him some slack. I considered running down to see Ellie again, also considering running to deliver the sphere to the doctor, but I doubt there would be enough time for either.

    Just waiting, I guess…

    That’s strange. ROOT updated the protocol.

    Downloading…

    Amount of Humans Active: 4/13
    Amount of Automatons Active: 2/914



    Automaton 456 HAL signing off.

    --

    Log system rebooting. Automaton 456 HAL signed in. Initiate documentation sequence.
    Log #1049310 Begin


    The door to the cargo hold has been ripped off. Sableye is nowhere to be found. Whatever remains of CHEX lies on the floor of the room.

    Automaton 456 HAL signing off.

    --

    Log system rebooting. Automaton HAL signed in. Initiate documentation sequence.
    Log #1049311 Begin


    Ellie isn’t in her hospital bed. The ground is soaked in blood.

    Automaton 456 HAL signing off.

    --

    Log system rebooting. Automaton HAL signed in. Initiate documentation sequence.
    Log #1049312 Begin


    I found Doctor Styx standing in a corner of the captain’s room. He had a gun aimed at the door and nearly fired it at me when I found him. His eyes were puffy and red, and his bones were chattering in fear. There was a pool of scarlet blood at his feet, and I soon noticed that his right arm was barely attached to his body.

    “Hal, there’s been an incident,” he said when I approached him. He continued to stare at the door, even after I entered. It was almost as if he wasn’t registering what had happened – the remains of his arm must’ve been feeling immense pain, but he was barely reacting.

    “Tell me everything you can,” I said sternly, crouching next to him.

    The doctor took a moment to return to reality before nodding. He closed his eyes to recount the events. “There was so much blood. A terrifying beast scrambled through the halls faster than we could see it. By the time we understood what it was, half of us had already been attacked. Some, if not most wounds were fatal.

    “Her mother and I managed to escape in the confusion and ran to protect Ellie. She was confused and scared, and we did our best to comfort her, but our noise attracted the beast. We were prepared to die protecting Ellie – her mother, my daughter, was consumed while lying on top of Ellie to protect her. But it was no use. Sableye clawed his way through us and grabbed Ellie. He ran into the dark with my granddaughter in his clutches, screaming.”

    Doctor Styx was crying. “I failed her.”

    “Sableye didn’t harm her, correct?” I asked.

    “I… don’t know. There was so much blood…”

    “Sableye wouldn’t have waited if he wanted to kill her. He took her for a reason,” I said. “Ellie is still alive, but we have to save her before it’s too late. Do you know where Sableye took her?”

    “No,” he sniffled, “but I did find her hair clip in the hallway to the cargo hold. I was… too afraid to go get her myself.”

    I nodded. “I’ll be back with your granddaughter.”

    “Wait, Hal,” the doctor said. “I have to give you something.” He reached into his laboratory jacket’s pocket, searching for something, but he apparently didn’t find it. “Oh no…” he murmured to himself. “It’s gone…”

    “What’s gone?” I asked, but the doctor didn’t reply. He only shook his head and resumed crying. “Doctor, I can’t help you or Ellie if you don’t help me! What did you have to give to me?”

    “I… had a Pokémon… Litwick…” the doctor said through his tears. “But I lost him.”

    I remembered back to yesterday to when the red and white sphere dropped from Doctor Styx’s pocket, presumably the same one. “Is this Litwick?” I asked, grabbing the same sphere from yesterday out of my pocket. I was surprised that I had managed to hold onto it.

    The doctor’s eyes lit up. “Where did you find this?!” he exclaimed, partially out of rage and partially out of happiness.

    “It fell out of your pocket yesterday, when you left the medical ward,” I explained.

    Surprisingly, the doctor got up off of the ground and lunged at me. Though he was very injured and movement was minimal, the sheer weight of his body almost knocked me over.

    ”Why didn’t you give it to me sooner?!” Doctor Styx screamed. He was pounding on my metal frame with his one intact hand as his tears continued to fall to the ground. “None of this would’ve happened if it weren’t for you!” he yelled.

    His fists were nothing. I carefully set him back down on the ground. “Calm down! Explain this to me!”

    “There’s nothing we can do now anyway! Everybody is dead!” Doctor Styx screamed.

    “I understand if you blame me for this, but I can still save Ellie if you at least explain to me what I have to do!”

    Rather than answering my question, Doctor Styx glared up at me. Without averting his eyes, the doctor pressed the button on the center of the sphere. A bright flash of light took me by surprise, but the most surprising thing was that a floating candle had replaced the sphere.

    “This is Litwick,” Doctor Styx said. “Litwick was the first Pokémon I encountered upon landing on Pokéarth. He has become my personal assistant and one of the first Pokémon to ever be domesticated.”

    The candle Pokémon’s bright yellow eyes seemed hallow with sadness. A dark blue flame danced on the wick above its head as it floated solemnly around the room.

    “Do you remember when I told you that each Pokémon on this expedition had its purpose for being here?” Doctor Styx asked. I nodded my head and he gave a brief smile. “The beast which has killed so many of my crew was captured back on Pokéarth by the captain, Captain Michaels. He was a military man, one paid by the governments back on Earth to protect our expedition from threats. But Captain Michaels took his orders from a higher power.

    “When our group first encountered the demon that is Sableye, we feared him. However, the captain saw Sableye as something much more than just a Pokémon; he saw a Weapon of Mass Destruction. We knew that bringing Sableye back to Earth was a mistake, but we were given orders by our funders to bring it along.

    “In the event that Sableye escaped, however, we knew we needed a way to protect ourselves from his wrath. My closest friend, Litwick, volunteered. Sableye feels he has control over everything, but this makes him naïve to what he does not know. Though Sableye has searched for life for an eternity, he does not know that he can’t contain such a powerful force as life. His body will consume itself if it ever achieves life.”

    “Litwick and I have known this possibility for a long time. We’ve accepted the responsibility and acknowledge the consequences. It is time for us to part ways,” the doctor said, smiling to his Litwick. Litwick smiled back, but I could tell he didn’t understand his fate.

    “I want you to take Litwick with you. He will help you get Ellie back and will put an end to this demon,” Doctor Styx said. He handed me the red and white capsule and gestured for me to leave. “Bring back my granddaughter,” I heard before shutting the door to the captain’s room with Litwick in front of me.

    Strangely, as soon as the door had shut, the Litwick began making small whimpering noises. I bent over to look at it and saw that small tears of liquid wax were dripping from its eyes.

    “What’s the matter?” I asked the Litwick.

    ”I don’t… I don’t want to die…” the candle sobbed. ”I know I told my trainer that I was ready for this, but I am so scared.”

    “Don’t be,” I said. “You and I are the same. We’re both free spirits that have been lost. We’re bound by our bodies and our minds, but we are more alive than any human will ever be.”

    The Litwick stopped crying and looked up at me. “But, how can I not be afraid? I have to fight Sableye, and I know I’m going to die trying. I am very afraid.”

    I gave a resigned smile to candle before standing up. “Will you watch after Ellie and Doctor Styx?”

    He nodded.

    “Will you watch after Abra and Elgyem?”

    He nodded once more.

    “And do you give your approval for me to take your place to destroy Sableye?”

    Litwick looked up at me. “No… no, I can’t!”

    “It’s okay, Litwick. This is what I’m supposed to do. This is my fault, and I’m ready to do whatever I can to make things right.”

    Litwick kept his stare as he looked into my eyes. “I… can’t let people die for me. It’s my responsibility.”

    I smirked. “I’m not a person though… Let me do this for you. Please,” I asked gently.

    Litwick hesitated. “I… I… Thank you. You are the bravest automat—person that I’ve ever met.”

    “Tell me what I have to do to end this,” I said.

    “Like Doctor Styx said, Sableye can’t control the strong forces he yearns for. Life is but one of these, and I was prepared to give my own to the beast.”

    “Tell me more,” I said. “I can’t give what I don’t have, but I’m prepared to sacrifice everything else.”

    Litwick hesitated. “We don’t know exactly. Things that living beings have but Sableye can never achieve. Happiness. Love. Dreams.”

    I nodded as I heard the all-too-familiar word. “Very well. If that is what it takes.”

    “You… you don’t have to do this,” Litwick said. “I’ve been preparing for this for a long time, and it’s my responsibility.”

    “This is bigger than that. I can’t quite explain it, but I know this is how I’m supposed to end. Giving up everything for my loved ones.”

    Litwick and I stood in silence. It wasn’t too long before I gave Litwick its red and white sphere and left.

    I stopped by to log for the last time. I have accepted my fate and know that it is the only way if I want to save Ellie.

    I have to go. It’s time for this to come to an end.



    All I have left to lose is a dream.

    Automaton 456 HAL signing off.




















    Log system rebooting. Unknown signed in. Initiate documentation sequence.
    Log #000001 Begin



    No one knows what exactly happened in the cargo hold aboard the S.S.S. Urania.

    When the starship was found, there were only two humans remaining. Both of them were severely injured and were on the brink of death when they were rescued. Three Pokemon remained as well, all of which were friendly and protected the humans during this massacre.

    Automaton 456 HAL and Sableye were never found.

    But most importantly, Hal’s dream gave a young girl hope.

    “Hal was the best friend I could ask for,” Ellie, the only child to board the S.S.S. Urania and only survivor alive today, says. “Even now, 24 years after the incident, Hal’s dedication, courage, and will are what keeps my faith in the world.”

    Hal’s dream lives on through Ellie Styx. After surviving the massacre, Ellie went on to become the first official Pokemon Professor. Unknowingly, Hal inspired the next greatest step in mankind.

    Hal, the never-living yet always-loving automaton, lives on through his eternal legacy. Though he was not alive, his dream touched millions. Hal, without being a human, became a better man than a human could ever be.

    Dream on, Automaton 456 HAL.

    Unknown signing off.
    Last edited by Princess Crow; 30th December 2013 at 01:07 AM.
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  2. #2
    Senile EmBreon's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Life, Death, and Dreams of Automaton 456 (Rated T for safety. Maybe M. I dunn

    I WILL GRADE THIS FOR YOU, MY BELOVED.

    Give me a day or twelve.


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  3. #3
    Senile EmBreon's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Life, Death, and Dreams of Automaton 456 (Rated T for safety. Maybe M. I dunn

    HERE WE GO. PUNCTUAL AS ALWAYS.

    ...

    V_V


    Story/Plot: Grrrrrr. I love this and hate it at the same time.

    "But Emma!?" you ask. "That's harsh, and it's mean! Such a strong emotion for a little story here on a Pokemon forum..."

    Well, Hannah, you have no business capturing such a powerful set of ideals in this relatively small chunk of text, and then delivering them with such finesse that I honestly am questioning my own values now after reading this. This is a Pokemon story, for crying out loud! This has never happened to me. Ever... in the 100+ stories I've graded for the URPG. Maybe this particular theme just hits me a bit harder than it would others, but I'm thinking the more probable explanation is that you're just a freaking badass.

    The fact that you could make me feel empathy towards this at all is an achievement on its own, let alone the severity of it. And while the ending was the core of the butterfly effect that it had on the future, I hated that he had to die! ;_;

    At first, this seemed to be a simple futuristic/sci-fi twist on a traditional Pokemon adventure. Robots in outer space. Alien Pokemon planet. Spaceship. Unique and inventive storyline, but nothing mind-blowing. I was scanning your grammar, your sentence structure, taking note of your use of detail and it's effectiveness with your narrative - the norm. Then, as the story began to unfold, these things stopped happening. I started... feeling things. ("Emma, that's lame... you're weird and cray cray." "SHUT UP, I CAN'T CONTROL ALL THESE FEELS.") You brought simple, but deep concepts into this: like humanity. HAL made me aware of things that I often take for granted. And while his narrative would sometimes be inconsistent - portraying that of a child, an adult, an uneducated and well-spoken person all at the same time in various different scenes of this story - I began to completely ignore it and even invent my own excuses for it. (He was programmed to speak that way, or know this from being here or there in an earlier time, or multiple personalities come from his lack of or developing emotions, etc.) Point of this being that, in truly great and engaging stories, the reader mentality corrects the loopholes or errors an author may have made because of how captivated they are. It's completely subconscious, and I probably wouldn't have even realized I had done it if I hadn't been actively "grading" this.

    Your pacing is phenomenal. What started out charming and kid-friendly, turned dark and exciting within a matter of a few sentences - something that is amazing at keeping your reader engaged and entertained, yet also incredibly difficult to pull off effectively. your logging technique was enthralling and honestly brilliant, because you were able to maximize HAL's impact throughout the story's whole, and also express more of his personality than simply using a traditional first or third person perspective. He bore his soul into his logs, figuratively I suppose, since as an android it is believed he never had one. But, considering his apparent emotion, perhaps humanity isn't necessarily something that only an actual human can have. AND YEAH, SEE. THIS STORY HAS MY MIND ALL IN A TWIST. THANKS A LOT, YOU SEDUCTIVE SUCCUBUS.

    Now, not to say that this story is without error. Because as an author, I realize that nothing is without flaw. Writing, as an art - which it most definitely is, has no "peak". There are lifetimes worth of improvements to be made, both to personal preference and subjectivity. But, taken from the viewpoint of what this actually is (a pokemon story for a forum game), in my eyes, it's flawless. This story was taken beyond the face-layers of action and detail. You gave it a theme, a tone, a moral, and a damn good plot.

    I may be gushing a bit more than I probably should, but this thing was for mons that don't exceed Hard level, and it is the first story I have ever read here that I would have passed even at Stupefying. I think somewhere around 2010 I named a story written by Bryceboy as the best urpg story I'd read. WELL, CONGRATULATIONS, THIS IS MY NEW FAVORITE. I hate you. For making me love this.


    Grammar/Spelling: YOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU bastard.

    Thanks for never doing anything wrong, or at least anything wrong worth mentioning, so that I just look like a lazy douche who doesn't pay attention. :[ A couple commas out of place. Some backwards phrasing. How dare you.

    Only thing I'd honestly recommend, because it's not really an error, and has nothing to do with grammar, is to be less obvious when you use foreshadowing. Typically the technique is for bringing clarification, a reference point, or intrigue to a future event. Times like HAL seeing Ellie smile at him and then in a monologue suggesting she seemed more compliant to discussing dreams was a bit cringe-worthily obvious of her role later in the tale. Be subtle and necessary. The more natural a situation feels, the easier it is digested and the more willing the reader is to get involved. Or emerged, I guess.


    Detail/Description: Something that so few writers here are aware of is the details "beyond the scene". Things happening outside of what is directly in dialogue or in action. Things that seem completely irrelevant, but are key in creating a universe and realistic "movie-like" experience. Things that you've included so effectively, you make it look easy.

    A girl's hair bouncing as she laughed.

    A clip being placed absentmindedly in her hair.

    An expression, an adjustment of glasses, a twitch of an eyebrow.

    These things are alive. Human. Relatable. And make a story real.


    You also set your tones to match the severity of each scene. It was remarkable, really. Things that were dire actually felt dire. Things that were exciting actually felt exciting. And through all of this, HAL's personality shined. You were able to create two separate entities in both your events and your protagonists while having them coincide perfectly with each other.

    Namely:

    This is all my fault. Ellie is bleeding out, Abra and Elgyem are unconscious in the same room as Sableye, and now I probably have no friends.
    Things were looking grim for all of your characters, and HAL's remark about not having any friends made me smile. It was at this point where I realized that I truly started to care for him. ("Wow, Emma. Having feelings for a fictional android, you truly have lost it.")

    These subtle bits of life are exactly what I'm talking about when I whine at people to develop their characters and add feeling to their stories. It doesn't take much, it just takes the thought and the awareness that in your world, that character is real.


    I suppose the only bit of constructive criticism I feel like giving you here is to pay attention to what adjectives or descriptions you use and how fitting to the subject they actually are. Keep things relevant. Would you really describe Sableye as a "beast" in your mind if you encountered it in real life? It was described as small and demon-like, yet also a beast. A "beast" to me is something massive and ferocious, or even barbaric. It's great to vary descriptions; vary them often, and vary them a lot. But, don't vary them to the extent that they are contradictory to each other.

    This section, like the others, was phenomenal regardless.


    Climax: It was at this point where my mind truly started to get blown. I was so involved, I was literally hunched over clutching my chin and staring unblinkingly at the screen. That is how a climax is supposed to be. The drama became surprisingly intense, I couldn't predict the solution, and following the blood and emotion, everything was resolved in a painstakingly depressing and effective conclusion. The importance of all of these logs and the events inside them was so great, it believably changed the world. There was nothing cheesy or over-dramatic about it. It felt real and plausible. And ending with HAL's sacrifice, not being able to watch it due to the fact that he was never able to relog, actually made it even more impacting. Humanity and dreaming - things everyone in the world possesses - now feel more like a gift than a trait.

    Mind = blown.


    Outcome: SO YEAH. THIS STORY. LIKE WTF.

    I'm super proud of you, and after reading this, a lot of that pride has now turned into admiration. Well done, for frick's sake.

    Abra, Sableye, Elgyem, and Litwick obviously captured. :|||
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